How do you organize your books/shelves??

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  • my3boys

    We are acquiring more and more booksLaughing, which is great, BUT….

    What would be the most efficient way to organize them??  Do you keep them by topic/subtopic/age/time period??  I’m sure there’s more categories but I’m sure you all get what I’m afterSmile

    I think they’re pretty organized right now, but I fear the more we acquire the more the necessity of organization will be. 

    Thanks for the input.


    I spent almost a month organizing our home library a few summers ago but it was well-worth it. I have 3 bookcases (5 shelves each) dedicated to our hs books. I categorized them by time period for history and color-coded the spines so the kids could spot the time period easily. I further categorized the history books by putting the year(s) the book covers, and then the approximate age/grade-level that the book is on the colored label. All our other subjects (bible, missions, personal development, science, poetry & Shakespeare) are grouped by subject, and our literature books are grouped by age-appropriate levels. It took me a while to hunt down time periods for the history books and then sort them, but it’s been several years since and I never had to do it again. The labels help the kids know where to put our books back so we can find them easier.

    Apart from this, we have 2 shelves that are just “fun” books, nothing is required from them other than enjoyment so the kids grab and take at will, without having to worry about where they go when they’re done. We have one art shelf with supplies, paper, etc, one shelf dedicated to science supplies, and then one bookcase with one child assigned a shelf to themselves where they keep their notebooks, whatever books they’re working on, personal supplies, etc.

    I tend to be a little on the anal side when it comes to organizing things and it’s a habit the kids are picking up so this system has worked well for us.

    Hope this helped



    I have high hopes of organizing my 10 bookshelves better. Although they are organized to a degree right now, as you  mentioned, I’m finding that as I acquire more books, the shelves that I have designated for each subject are at capacity!

    I’ve had this article bookmarked for months now and I think I’ll probably organize my shelves this way — that is, once my husband builds me a few more shelves. Wink

    Good luck with your organizing! (Isn’t it a wonderful “problem” to have?)



    Thanks, that does help.  I need to do something similar.  I do have a few bookshelves for just books and they are somewhat organized by History, and it’s time period/Science/Lit/Picture, etc.  But within the shelves, I’d like to be able to locate what I’m looking for more quickly and just have a more organized feel.  I hate wasting time looking for something.  I did put all of our resources that I really wanted to cover this year on one bookshelf so they would be easier to locate (that’s really just for my benefit). 

    Thanks for the input…this is something that I need to work on a little more to be happy with it. 

    PS: I can be a little anal as wellWink.


    I was typing while you were typing, Anna.  Thanks for the input as well.  And, yes, it is a wonderful problem to have.  I love being able to go to our bookshelves and have resources readily available, like a library/supply store, but better since it has what we chosen it to have.  But, it’ll be more helpful the more organized it. 

    thanks again.


    I have done several things, the most recent is this: The library had a book sale where they were selling 10 magazine holders for 25 cents.  I got a ton (they are in great shape and very expensive new).  I labeled them with my module titles (like Mod.1 – Ancient Egpt). put the books purchased specifically for the module in it, then next to it on the shelf I added all my “additional books”.  I did that for all 6 modules, then for everyone of the topics I have chosen to study.  In science I have easy readers, one holder marked 106 days, one marked Nature Study etc.  I have the FIAR books, the SCM Early Readers, and several other  lined up and locate-able at a glance.  I can pull out the one subject/volume I need and it is all there,  I feel good when I look at them because I now know where everything goes. 

    For the kids I discovered that they won’t free read as much if the books are just lined up on the shelf.  =(  So I bought several baskets, stuck them through out the house, and boxed up the rest.   I will switch them every month or so, as the interest wanes.  Good way to sort twaddle.  haha

    I have thought about the dot system for each subject, the Dewey Decimal system, etc.  I need to catalog my books too, and Linda recommended for that,  It seems pretty cool and it is not a social networking library, ugh.  Like I need more distractions with books.  LOL

    I second magazine holders for certain subjects. I found some cheap ones at Ikea and labeled them accordingly. For instance, science is divided into earth science, planets, weather/seasons, anatomy, etc.

    Just having certain subjects like these categorized saves me time and I can “see” my other books more clearly.


    I’m pretty simple with it. I have one spot for history, somewhat by time period, but I don’t have a ton since I only have 2 kids and don’t save a whole lot.  Science has a section, Shakespeare and poetry, and art has a section. I have a section for my personal homeschool helps books.  Most of the rest are lit. and I simply keep them alphabetical so I can check quickly if I have it.

    I also have one shelf for my current books that I’m reading to the kids, my teacher guides, etc.  And each kid has a shelf for their books for the year that they read on their own.  For everything they’re currently reading, math books, etc. I have somewhat of a workbox system…but it’s really just rubbermaid drawers to put their books back in.  I used to use bookshelves for their daily work, but they were always a mess…much prefer the drawers:)  HTH some:)  Gina


    Thanks everyone for so many good ideas. 

    I do have the shelves sorted by history/lit/resources, etc., but these ideas will help me to “see” what I have better.  I have a small area on one shelf dedicated to next school year’s history and my kids all have crates or shelves for their individual work, so those items are pretty well sorted out.  I love the idea of the magazine holders and dividing up the sciences, that would really help, as I now have lots of science readers (good problem to have since they’re all really good books that I couldn’t get rid of yet).  I could use more baskets for free reading books, right now we only have one, so that may help to get them used more.

    Thanks again.

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